What Scares You Will Be Its Soul: My Dead Girlfriend and Project: Dark-Seed

This post contains horror, disturbing images and, worst of all, *spoilers.* Reader’s discretion is advised. 

When Dream created the Corinthian a long time ago in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, his original aim was to construct a sentient dream that represented humanity’s fear of its own darkness. In the end, of course, he became more like a simple serial killer than anything as grand as a being that could make dreamers face the worst parts of themselves.

Corinthian Uncreated

The Corinthian’s initial failure as a dark mirror in which humanity could see the other part of its soul is a fitting metaphor when you hear discussions about the horror genre: particularly how gore and spectacle can take precedence over slow, creeping, uncanny elements out of the corner of your eye and the fear of the unknown or the forgotten.

And then you have creepypastas.

Kris Straub is already doing a web series called Scared Yet in which he looks at and dissects creepypastas: examining how they work, and how they don’t. He said once, in his now defunct Ichor Falls Blog, that many creepypastas fall into a formula or a series of tropes. You know: Jeff the Killer that is the result of bullying and acid being thrown on his face becoming ala the Joker analogue, a whole series of cursed video games bought from a creepy old man who may or may not vanish after a purchase, every story about Disney symbolizing institutionalized and secretive evil, and all the rest of it.

Many beginning writers can do this: they find stories that appeal to that part of them and they imitate them. Even so, many of these pastas have somehow become viral memes as they tap — sometimes even in a shallow manner — into that sense of universal horror and dread in humanity.

But then there are others …

There. Are. Others.

I have talked about Candle Cove before: created by the aforementioned Kris Straub. But a few days ago this little gem manifested itself:

My dead girlfriend keeps messaging me on Facebook. I’ve got the screenshots. I don’t know what to do. It is a story that was created on a subreddit called r/nosleep: where people seemingly write stories that commenters respond to as if they are real accounts. You can find a more polished version of it right here. But in many ways the original is much more diabolical and I will explain why.

First of all, like Candle Cove, it uses its medium to effect. But while Candle Cove emulates a Message Board, complete with user typos and all that loveliness, My Dead Girlfriend is already on a subreddit: a forum that functions as a series of comments stacked up on each other in a grey background with faded white fonts.

But goes further than that. My Dead Girlfriend also has links to what seem to be screen captures of Facebook Private and Public Chats. It utilizes Tags in empty spaces. And then there is the writing style to consider. While Kris Straub utilizes typos in Candle Cove, natesw or Nathan — which I suspect are personas — writes this from the first-person in something of a epistolary format: a series of journals or reports of the phenomenon occurring. Moreover, the writing from natesw’s persona on r/nosleep is clear, with no typos whatever, and possesses proper sentence structure, spelling, and grammar.

Yet the Facebook Chats he has “screen-captured” have the typos and fragmented sentences. And the dialogue between him and his dead girlfriend gets juxtaposed and played with like a twisted form of poetry. These two modes, the first-person of the subreddit text and the third-person and visual aids of the Facebook images complement each other. Unfortunately, if you go by the subreddit the ending could be lost: if it is indeed the ending.

Read the second, cleaner tickld version though: and look at the very last image that it shows you.

Creepy, no?

Remember, you have to find Candle Cove. My Dead Girlfriend finds you.

Ghost Writer

It’s still finding us. When Candle Cove was first sent to me, it had been around for a few years. Right now, though, My Dead Girlfriend is still spreading.

And the story had me before that image too. My friend and I were talking about this into the wee hours of Sunday and she told me that it had her at “FRE-EZING.” This was the only original word that “Emily” was able to construct, or revealed. You see, we never know whether Nathan’s torment is the result of a sick hacker, Nathan’s own subconscious mind projecting the grief of his trauma into messages from Emily, or … the fragments of Emily’s traumatized essence not completely realizing that she is dead and going to the place and person that she knows more than herself: perhaps even trying to make up for the reluctant displays of affection that she showed Nathan in life before she died on her way to their apartment.

Basically, the story is left open-ended. And there is the challenge in the recipe right there. You have to basically know that balance between detail and that open-endedness. If you have too much detail, people will question the specifics and your creepypasta will deflate into skepticism. On the other hand, if you are too grandiose and you try to encompass everything your structure will either never grow or will fall apart at the seams.

I think one element to know what medium you want to use and how you want to structure it. At the same time, you need to know what story you want to tell. Images, photoshopped or otherwise, help too. Another advantage that My Dead Girlfriend has is the fact that it has many commenters either playing along (being the poster’s friends or general fans of the subreddit) or are so taken by the Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds Effect that they are genuinely giving the poster natesw advice. But this story also manages to tap into the general and the specific. The characters and personas have names. There are dates. The accident that took Emily is revealed in slow and painful detail. The uncanny is tapped.

And that is the difference right there: that last ingredient. You can study the remnants of a miracle, but you can’t really reconstruct its soul from what is left. Or, in my case and in the case of other writers, you can’t create an original soul of a new story by purely examining leftovers alone.

I can tell you how these stories work, but it’s like deconstructing a joke. It’s just not funny after. It’s just not horrifying. And anything that I make from this, as it has been a long-term goal of mine to create a viral horror meme after my girlfriend had showed me Candle Cove, would just be a shallow or empty form.

I have many ideas for a creepypasta. It was the very aim of my Project: Dark-Seed. But after that conversation with my friend last night, I realized something. I realized just why the Corinthian was such a failure to Dream.

Dream even admitted that the fault was his own. Dream created the Corinthian to embody humanity’s fear of its own darkness, but despite the fact that Dream is an embodiment of the sentient impulse of imagination and dreaming, he isn’t human. Until his imprisonment in Preludes and Nocturnes, and slowly before with his human friend Hob he never tried to get close enough to humans to actually understand their perspective.

Dream could observe human darkness, but he didn’t really know how they experienced it. He couldn’t relate to his audience. The Corinthian, who was intended to be a classic horror tale became a gory spectacle because he only engaged humans on that superficial level. Unlike Dream’s other stories, other dreams and nightmares, the Corinthian wasn’t made from a pre-existing concept or a sentient being made into something more. He was Dream’s attempt at original creation and imitation of life and he failed.

He was an empty shell that tried to fill himself with gore and eyeballs and attention. As Dream’s creepypasta to humanity, the Corinthian falls short. That is the same reason why some creepypastas and horrors stories fail because the creator doesn’t try to relate to their audience. In terms of comedy, the joke doesn’t amuse them.

The story doesn’t scare them.

But what would have happened if the Corinthian scared Dream? What would have happened if Dream thought about what scared him and made the Corinthian in that image? What happens when a horror writer creates a monster that scares them, that makes them feel goose flesh at the mere thought of it: of that thing at the corner of their consciousness that they logically know can’t happen or exist, but deep down knows?

Who knows. Perhaps Dream’s re-creation of the Corinthian after his own imprisonment and exile changed the model. Perhaps he just needed a catalyst to tap him into that deep black pool of universal horror and white noise, take a piece of it, and fashion from its substance a soul to fill the emptiness.

Static

Perhaps a creator only needs to find something to be scared of in order to create a nightmare that can be shared with the world.

Now if that isn’t the beginning of a story of one’s descent into creative damnation, I don’t know what is. The powers help me. I think I have been writing too much in hell. But the moral of this story is that some people like their pastas filled with gore or emptiness.

I like my pastas to be filled with darkness: from the heart.

Corinthian

My Depression is a Ginosaji

It was Winston Churchill that called depression his black dog. I never thought of actually personifying or embodying my depression into its own form before. I suppose I’m really talking about the subject of depression due to my absence away from Mythic Bios and having thought about the matter at some length.

But there are different kinds and variations of depression depending on the situation or the person. So, after really thinking about it and with Gaming Pixie’s unintentional helpfulness in the matter in attempting to get me back for sending her a disturbing video, I give to you my loyal readers what my depression would look like.

Yes, my depression would be Richard Gale‘s Ginosaji.

A Ginosaji (which apparently means “silver spoon” in Japanese) seems to be this grotesque, dark, awkward, lurking, creeping thing that beats you with a spoon. Eventually. At first, it’s the little details that simply irk you. And you try to ignore it, or dismiss it. But then the spoon beatings keep increasing and they never stop. You can’t power through it. You can’t kill it. You can’t ever completely blow it up. You can’t become it.

You don’t know why it is even there. And just as a shovel can slowly erode a mountain given time, so can a spoon beating begin to bruise and wear you down. And it is so ridiculous. It offends your pride. It is laughable that something like this can challenge your sense of self-worth and peace of mind. It embodies all the little things that shouldn’t bring you down: the bureaucracies of the world, getting your passport, preparing your trips, even responding to potential incentives … All of these things are just one ridiculous, banal spoon blow at a time.

And when you apply this to sufferers of chronic illness, the symbol of the spoon gains a whole other kind of connotation: the irony being that while you run out of spoons, the depression always seems to get them all.

But, unlike the main protagonist of the above short film, I have my methods of dealing with this particular demon. I can at least laugh about it. Sometimes. I suppose that is the function of the Ginosaji: a ludicrous symbol of the humour in, and the parody of, human suffering and existence.

That, or he is just a douchey demon with one too many spoons.

What? Did you think I could honestly resist another reference?

Having to Choose: What to Send and What To Post

There is this one thing that frustrates me from time to time. When I’m not posting articles straight onto Mythic Bios, I am writing stories into the other one: the Other Mythic Bios that I elude to from time to time.

There are stories I make that I really want to show you. There are stories that I want to be seen. But I also want to get published. Very simply: I know that most magazines–at least paying magazines–will not accept stories that have been printed elsewhere in any form. Or if there are such magazines and publications, I don’t know where to find them. It is one of the many things I have to search for at this time.

So basically, there are some stories I have that I need to save in order to send out to publications that may or may not accept them: publications that take time to get back to someone as well. I know that this is just how it goes and I don’t know what the results will ever be, but it can be frustrating.

Especially since I want you guys to see some of these stories.

I realized something else. After I started to truly stop procrastinating and send out my most functional stories, I realized that I didn’t have as many of them as I thought or wanted. I mean, I have stories that I can edit–and good writing is re-writing–and some that I can expand on, but of the ones that I have–the ones that I think are whole so far–I need to actually keep them in reserve.

And I don’t have many people to show them to. Many of my friends are very understandably busy and I can’t share with them as much as I used to. It is very sobering to really appreciate an immediate trusted reader-audience when they are no longer as available.

I also have some works that I am hesitant to even bring out because, frankly, they aren’t ready: in both structural and even psychological terms. I will say though that I am still looking for other comics collaborators in addition to my friend Angela to at least look over what I have planned.

So what it comes down is that I have to choose. A lot of my derivative works–my homages to other creators–go on here because I am not making any profit from them at all, I credit the people that inspire me, and I can show people what I can do–but I also manage to post some stories that I know won’t quite make it in any magazines that I read, but that I still like enough to think they deserve reader-attention and to further illustrate what I am capable of as a writer of fiction.

I have to choose which stories I think might make it in a magazine and which I can afford to hold off on showing a wider audience (at least to those publications that do not allow for simultaneous submissions) and which ones I think will only make it in my realm right here. I do not like having to make that choice, and I am at a place now where I’m beginning to actually pursue another path.

One for thing, I am looking for work and focusing on jobs that can supplement what I’m doing right now. I’m attempting to take the pressure off of constantly feeling the need to send stories out to all kinds of magazines all the time. Also in this way, I’m writing a lot of non-fiction articles and–if you’ve been following so far–I’ve even had one published: with more to come I’m sure. I already have one or two new Sequart articles planned.

It also helps that I have two major writing projects to focus on now: including working on one with the input of a very awesome group of people. I don’t want to say much else about this until more occurs, but it is something I didn’t see coming and I really forward to seeing where it is going to go. If I am full of something, it is definitely ideas. Finally, I’ve been toying with making a collection of stories to make into a printed or electronic book. It’s not the first time I’ve thought about this and I know it won’t be the last either, but it is definitely worth writing here.

And, for the record, I am glad you are all here to see me write my strange, weird hybrid articles that link things together and what elements of my stories and random poetry that make it out onto the Internet. I actually wrote this entire post a while ago, but after reviewing it I’ve realized that for all my frustrations and setbacks, and the collage of rejection letters that I plan to create, I have accomplished a lot and I am in the process of undertaking even more possibilities: and just as you are here for my writing, I hope you will do me the honour of remaining at my side for the rest of this Choose Your Own Adventure I’ve made for my life.

The fact is, you are all awesome. Thank you for reading me.

How to Get Attention: Or What My Readers Seem to Like

I thought it might be interesting to play in traffic today … or, more specifically, look at which topics of mine tend to get the most reader-hits.

I admit: I spend a lot of time looking at my Stats and guessing at who has viewed what and from where based on some pretty bar graphs. So now that we have established that I have very little in the way of a life (though I strongly suspect there are other people who are doing the exact same thing even as I write this out of pure morbid fascination), I want to look at what seems to really “work” in terms of attracting readers on Mythic Bios: and possibly other Blogs.

Well, my first observation is that the recording of Life events really tends to get a lot of attention. It seems as though readers really want to know more about a Blog writer’s actual life beyond, mainly, what they actually record down. For a while I avoided doing that as much, but I recognize the value in occasionally dealing with that part of my self and some of the milestones in my own life offline. I guess the fact that people are interested in other people and specifically people whose writing they follow isn’t that much of a surprise in retrospect.

It also isn’t surprising that there are a lot of hits with regards to my posts on Creativity and the Creative Process, or to be more “nice and accurate” about it: my own thoughts about them. It isn’t as though my thoughts are particularly original, mind you, but I have to be precise in stating that these are my opinions and experiences with the above. Whereas with my Life I tend to find moments where I really need to express or share something, my writings on Creativity are mainly me pretty much talking out loud but–unlike the actual times when I talk to myself (a lot)–I actually want to take readers through something of my process: to outline a bit of my own mind and how it works.

Unfortunately, it also isn’t that surprising that when I wrote my post on Depression, I got  lot of hits for two days afterwards. It is a very common topic–especially in this day and age–and it also feeds back to the idea of the “personal being publicly popular.”

In a lot of ways, all of the above are pretty much the electronic Mythic Bios’ bread-and-butter, as it were. I know that if I talk about these topics or choose a day where the new Dr. Who episode or the latest movie comes out to talk about it, I will get some traffic there. It’s good to know what works and what needs work.

I have some specialized posts that do not always get as much traffic, but they are relatively consistent in their own way. For instance, I find that I get a fair bit of views with regards to my What is FV Disco? and my Worms and Bicycles articles from Eastern and Central Europe due to the fact that I am touching upon an art movement and style that originated in Slovenia, and that–at least at the time I made them–there seemed to be few articles talking about the subject online: never mind with regards to the comics medium.

Speaking of comics, I have been getting some modest traffic with regards to my reviews of comic books like Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum and anything I’ve written on Miracleman. I try to put a little of everything for Geek readers and otherwise: though really it depends on my mood and where I think the flow of the Blog is going at that time. What I mean is: I try to maintain some kind of continuity with regards to which article I place after the last.

And I am really happy to see people reading my stuff: especially my articles on, and my stories based from Video Games: of which my only claim to expertise is the fact that I’ve played some of them and even loved them. It also makes me happy to see the occasional view of my article on my experience with Gwendolyn MacEwen and The Vampire Sex Bar too. I obviously find that my articles on mainstream subjects or things that have become so such as Creativity, Superman, The Doctor and what-not to get more attention while some my more obscure and original articles get less: though it is very satisfying when this last does get some views.

But I think the most gratifying moments for me are when someone reads some of my samples of fictional writing. It just makes me happy to see people reading my most original or at least creatively derivative work. Yet I have to say that, in the end, I am just satisfied to see that anyone reads any thought, poem, review, story, or opinion of mine here. It is the closest I have to bringing you into the world that I created for myself from all of this and my own essential self.

Sometimes I feel like I am not always that interesting and much of what I write on here isn’t that important when you really think about it. But writing and writing to one’s audience is more than statistics, or whether or not you get paid, or how much attention-whoring you do. Writing is about getting yourself out there and expressing it in such a way where you don’t dumb yourself down, but the same time you are not trying to be inaccessible and superior.

I am still trying to find the line between what I want here and what I may want elsewhere. But in the meantime, I have a better idea of how to continue. For instance, I know that if I want to get Freshly Pressed the best way to do it is to write about a topic that is universal or very popular (such as a strange pseudo-serious and somewhat creative meditation on the nature of cartoons), make it short, but also make it stand out by cramming a lot of ideas and resonance into so small a space. An appropriate graphic also helps. Of course I also understand that there are other factors to consider too: such as what the staff of Freshly Pressed is looking for that day or that week and there is only so much you can control or predict.

So I will just end off this post by stating that ever since I started Mythic Bios a year ago, I have a much better idea of figuring out what my current and prospective audience wants to see and how much of that is determined by my skill and my circumstances. But there is still a lot of things I do not understand and you all continue to surprise me in what it is that you like to see. My video game and some of my shorter comics ones come to mind there. And then sometimes–very rarely but very sweetly–I see that some of you go on Google and type in the name of the particular article of mine that you want to see. And that, my friends, is what makes me the happiest of all.

What You Are Left With

So not too long ago I read this post from Amanda Palmer which talks about a few things: but more specifically how Bloggers may be “the next writers,” emails are replacing letters as personal correspondence and how it will be challenging for historians and outside archivists to preserve all of this.

You know, sometimes I look at this. Right here. I look at this: I look at all of this–my Blog, social sites, email and the Internet itself–and I realize how really ephemeral it all is.

I am not a technological or computer expert, but some days I just imagine there being some kind of event that overloads information and backups to the point where this–all of this–is gone. It makes me remember that I don’t back-up any of my Blog posts on here. What I mean is, they are all essentially sent directly onto my WordPress, and if anything happens this would all be gone.

Then I think about the reverse. I think about the Internet and computer technology continuing to evolve: to points where we can’t even dream it will go. Imagine a future where technology becomes more intuitive–as though it is an extension of the human body in how you can easily access it like moving your arm–and all that old information comes with it. Or will it? Will old data from ancient systems survive into newer ones? Would it be the same? I know even from my limited knowledge and terrible chagrin that something like an old USB key can go obsolete.

But let’s say that technology will change to a point where obsolete technology and information on it can be easily passed onward: and accessed by anyone with any degree of knowledge. Let’s also say that this information will be documented and recorded by other people who want to write biographies or otherwise examine the lives of users from this time.

I mean, it is already happening to an extent. Archivists are tackling the gathering of emails and data from websites and online archives. Sometimes, as an exercise, I think about and look at everything I’ve typed up on Mythic Bios and I imagine someone in the future–or even now–trying to reconstruct what I was like as a person through what I allowed to be on here.

Does Mythic Bios represent my entirety as an individual?

I would have to say no.

It does represent a part of me. It represents my interests, some of my thoughts, and even some feelings but it definitely doesn’t have the full breadth and width of me. Sometimes it feels like a really carefully crafted shell or a layer of created artifice. And I enjoy crafting that artifice almost as much as I enjoy writing things on here, if that makes any sense, at least from a writer’s perspective. Amanda also mentions on her Blog that she doesn’t like to tell everyone about what she is doing, or reading, or listening to all the time because she wants a piece of herself for her and her loved ones alone. I think that is part of it too with me.

I think it’s also that I know I am just as ephemeral as my Blog. I am going to change. I am changing even at this moment. I don’t have it all figured out either because of this fact. There is something really comforting about writing a narrative where you place down the facts–“just the facts” of your interests and goals–with hints of the person shining out between them from time to time. I am, if nothing else, also a tease. 😉

But facts and stories can be so much more orderly–and comforting in that order–than an actual human life can be when you are in the process of experiencing it: especially when your other impulse is to chaos and destruction in not always a super-villain kind of way.  So I would be almost comforted if this Blog were to be all that was really left of me, but those human moments of ambiguity–that small amount of embossing–would make me feel a lot better about it.

Now if the Net went down, or suffered a few memory-wipe phases of cataclysm and all everyone had to go by me were the personal things I have written down that would be an entirely different story altogether. I mean, assuming they didn’t think I was crazy, they probably wouldn’t be able to understand me: if only because my handwriting is in ancient Sumerian … also known as messed up scribbling.

Sometimes your hand and pen cannot move as fast as your mind or your imagination.

In some of my more depressed moments, I think all I am going to leave behind are papers and electronic weirdness. Sometimes I think these are the best things about me. I don’t really know just how “inspirational” I actually am when you take the rest of this stuff away. I’m not really doing anything that anyone else can’t do. But maybe it’s just the way that I do it, or that others do it that differentiates us. It’s that mystery of “You-ness” or “I-ness.” I still haven’t solved that mystery yet and you know what? Maybe that’s a good thing:  because that means I’ll keep writing and doing what I need to do. I’ll keep going and when I am not angsty or introspective, I’ll just be ad hoc and silly.

And if that’s what comes through, like I said before, I will be more than okay with that: especially if someone else can relate to it.

https://i1.wp.com/www.photos-public-domain.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/spiral_notebooks.jpg

So, After Being Freshly Pressed

How do I even start this?

Usually, I wouldn’t post anything until Thursday, I just really have to respond to, well, the major response that I got after my Funnies entry got Freshly Pressed.

You have to understand: a day or so ago, I go into the basement to look at my email and I see this email from Cheri Lucas telling me that she and the rest of the editorial team liked my post and decided to pick it to be Freshly Pressed.

I didn’t really know what this was going to entail: save that I was going to get another link for more people to look at my Writer’s Blog. Now, I knew I was going to get a fair amount of traffic, but … wow.

Crazy

Just wow.

This has been insane. In a very good way.

So the silly and rather weird picture above aside, let me try to put this in perspective. For me, my best days were 30 or so Views. Until this point, I had about sixty or so Followers as well. And I only got the occasional comment. All of these were, in themselves, very awesome.

So … you can imagine what it feels like when you come down and you see that you’ve gone from sixty Followers to–right now–one hundred and nineteen Followers. Then you see you have +91 on your site per view graph (which in D&D terms would be a godlike modifier bonus for any player character). Finally, you see that you have something along the lines of six hundred and eighty-two Views, which WordPress now specifically says comes from four hundred and eighty-nine visitors.

Think about that: four hundred and eighty-nine people found something interesting enough to look at on this Blog. And then–and then–one hundred and nineteen of you signed up to join me on the Journey to see where this Writer’s Blog is going to go.

What humbles me even more is, right now, it’s all still growing.

So, let me make my thank yous. I would like to thank Cheri Lucas and her fellow WordPress editors for choosing my Blog post to exhibit on Freshly Pressed: to have found something that they felt needed to be said, or, as Cheri herself put it, helps to “make the Internet a more interesting place.”

I also want to give a hearty thank you to all my new readers. All of you. All of you that have passed through here, that have Re-Blogged my Journal post on your sites, and that decided to Follow me to pretty much god knows where. I welcome you and I hope to continue the work that got you all here to begin with.

When I first started Mythic Bios, it was in a series of written notebooks: containing stories and vignettes that combined research and aspects of my own life together into strange alchemical experiments of writing. I made this site to supplement the creative writing that I thought I was going to be doing. By Creative Writing, I thought I was going to be making a lot of fiction and some more essay-like constructs. Since then, I’ve realized creative writing covers a wide range of fiction and non-fiction.

So look: I don’t know how much longer this is going to last. I don’t know how many more new Viewers I’m going to get or how long I will have this captiv — I mean, willing audience of all of you, so here is what I am going to do.

The strange critical and creative article hybrids here will continue as planned. However, I am going to start posting more short stories. You are all going to see short stories under my Stories and Things Page on the top bar of my Blog. And also … you might see a serial story or two happening as well.

Project: Dark-Seed may have to commence soon enough.

I guess the best way to end this long rambling post is to thank all of you because, frankly, you are all awesome and you encourage me to keep remembering that what I have to say is worth writing about. I’d like to think that this is just the beginning. Take care everyone. 🙂

Pleased

Paradigms Lost, Paradigms Regained: Looking Back and Looking Forward Can Be Both One and the Same

Foregone Warning: the title of this post is a play on words and borderline off-key rhyme. It almost verges into the territory of the pun. Actual warning: this article is going to be a very link extensive post and I hope it will all make sense towards the end.

In my post A World Coming Together, A Possible Paradigm Forming, and Other Stories That Find Themselves On Their Way, I make a lot of promises and claims but there is one in particular that I feel I need to go into a little more detail about.

I said before that it seems like we are in the process of the rise of a new paradigm: based on the geek nostalgia of the late seventies, but mostly the eighties onward to early 2000. As I said before, I feel I need to be more specific about this. What I actually mean is that we have been, for some time now, at a point where we can look back what was the present not too long ago and actually subvert and critique it. I mean, we can actually ask some questions about a lot of things that we took for granted: either in all seriousness or through satire.

For instance, look at Robot Chicken and how it makes fun of a lot of popular culture from the 80s and onward. The thing about Robot Chicken, however, is that it makes fun of generally everything to a warped and twisted degree of hilarity: and I wonder if this hasn’t also been a product of the past thirty or forty years or if it takes a paradigm about that amount time to gestate and create itself.

I guess I am trying to talk about a few things at once: which is not the first time something like this has happened for me. So I’m going to take a risk and bring up some theory, and then see what I can do with it from there.

In about the 1980s, there was–or even is–this theory that we had entered something called post-modernism. There is a lot of debate as to what post-modernism actually is, but from my understanding it seemed to be a period in which  literature and other media had become fragmented or combined with one another to make entirely different meanings from what they once were, or could have been. In addition to this was the rise of another idea called deconstructionism which, in the very reduced way I’m explaining it, is a theory that likes to take things apart. When you combine these ideas together, you essentially create writings and cultures that are incredibly ironic, sometimes “self-aware,” and that like to dissect themselves while at the same time attempt to reveal a multiple amount of different meanings.

There are a lot of scholars and artists that dispute these terms, of course, and say that every generation or paradigm goes through a phase of critiquing what came before and making something new from these elements afterwards. I like to think that the 80s and onward really favoured making pastiches–narratives and stories created from parts of things like patchwork monsters–to either subvert something that once existed or make as unique as is humanly possible.

Now, take that idea. You can definitely apply that to Robot Chicken. But it goes further than that and it doesn’t always manifest in the same way. For instance, take ItsJustSomeRandomGuy. As I mentioned in another post, he takes primarily Marvel and DC superheroes and villains and actually makes them aware of their fictional status but keeps them in character in doing so and even manages to make some incredible meta-narrative plots with a whole lot of geek culture references. I‘m A Marvel, I’m a DC is a whole lot less “profane” than Robot Chicken, but they operate on similar principles. I also would be greatly remiss if I forgot the How It Should Have Ended series: where popular movies and videos are depicted as cartoons and their plots are changed or subverted by … well … common sense. But since when do good fictional plots make sense with common sense? 😉 We can argue that point.

The whole idea of popular cultural or geek references, sometimes to the point of being self-referential in different media seems to have originated from Joss Whedon’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer: where in addition to a whole lot of witty “dialogue without pity,” there was a regular string of different kinds of references. The issue, however, is that I’m not sure this where it came from, or one of the points of entry into mainstream culture and entertainment. All I can say is, it was for me.

I have noticed, however, that a lot of my examples of this paradigm are very television and Internet-based. And there it is. I would argue that a paradigm or a culture is created when it evolves to the point of being able to look at itself and critique itself. And right now, this impulse, which may have started in the 80s as we know it, has sky-rocketed as information technology has advanced.

Look at the Abridged series for instance. Abridged series are fan-made parodies of television shows and cartoons. Parodies like LittleKuriboh’s Yu-gi-oh Abridged and Team Four Star’s Dragon Ball Z Abridged have become very popular and entertaining shows among fans: so much so that many other fans create their own Abridged series, or parody the Abridged series that exist. They are practically viral phenomena.

And these are just the fictional examples. I haven’t even begun to go into the actual Critics  like The Nostalgia CriticThe Angry Video Game Nerd and Cinemassacre Productions, Nixie Pixel, G33kPron and countless others who review and critique video games, movies, and geek culture old and new. They also use the pastiche form in some cases to make various verbal and media references. There are also so many more people we do this as well.

Now, somewhere in all of this fictional and non-fictional stuff … is me.

It took me a really long time to realize that not only was I already a part of this nebulous process, but that it was legitimate and more than okay to be so. I’ve had at least one teacher or two who would have once considered comics and video games utter dreck: or at the very least very un-serious diversions from real life. And I’m not going to lie to you or myself: there is a lot of garbage out there that isn’t even entertaining like “YouTube Poop”: videos created specifically to be obnoxious. But every literary and media culture has garbage. They also have gems and other treasures.

Think about this prospect. All the video games you’ve played and the comics you’ve read are becoming references that more people from a generation of thirty or forty years understands. These references make it into literature and criticism. Moreover, we exist in an Age of Information: where many obscure and old elements of our childhood are much more accessible to us now than ever before.

Some scholars have even argued that we are–or we were–in an age of Hypertext: a situation where we can click on a vast amount of chain-information through links and linked words on the Internet. You know, like when you are on Wikipedia or anywhere else, and you search for one thing, and then click on a highlighted word or phrase to be linked to another–or multiple other–online pages. In part, this allows us to look back on “our childish things,” and we don’t turn our backs on them, but instead we embrace them with an adult perspective and understanding that only someone who knew them way back when can give.

Moreover, we can even take this perspective–possibly created from our own nostalgia–and apply it to times that existed before us, or take that and make something entirely new in our time now. But also think about this: in addition to having more information technology, we are developing more interactive technology as well. Video games are much in the same place that comics, and film used to be–and to some extent–still are in public opinion. They have not always been respected, but as we continue to make them we can add more content, more distinction, and more variety. We can–and we have–gotten to the point where video games can even make references or “literary allusions” to other video games and culture in general. I am definitely going to revisit this thought at some other people.

Then consider the other people who participate in these interactive narratives and add the Internet to that fact: which connects people all across the world and different forms of life. Sometimes, I believe–in my more optimistic moments–that we could be on the cusp of creating something truly great and maybe even in our own lifetime. I can’t even imagine what will come after this if all goes well.

So in all of this, I am trying to find my own place: to find my niche. I want to take advantage of this time and do something that matters. This Blog, in no small way, is a part of this drive. It is here that I can combine my geeky interests with my academic background and my creative impulse to construct new things and state my opinions. I want to be a part of this. I want to do something great as well.

I grew up in the nineties or, as a friend of mine likes to chant, “90s 90s, living in the 90s!” Once, it was my present and sometimes it’s weird–really weird–that it and the early 2000s aren’t anymore. Sometimes, I feel time-displaced. I feel lost. I have another acquaintance who once stated that the children of the 80s, and even those before are a Lost Generation: of people who never really achieved their full promise in today’s world. But we’re not. We’re really not. I think we have been coming into our own and we will continue to do so as we ascribe a multiplicity of new meanings to old things, and create things that will make other things together.

Because there it is: perhaps post-modernism and deconstructionism might have taken things apart to see how they work, as they work, but we–whether we are in a Hypertext age or not–are starting to put them back together … and make different things entirely. Now that is something to celebrate.

Horror as Collaboration: A Multimedia Nightmare

Just as the creature from Edison’s 1910 film version of Frankenstein formed, as seen in the picture above, I have been thinking about the best way to go about doing a viral creepypasta.

Then I came across this link from a friend of mine to the story of The Dionea House. It has a very epistolary format: in which a story is narrative constructed through what seems to be correspondence or journal entries. In the case of the above story, they even use online journal links and phone texts.

I was so impressed with Candle Cove, that I wanted to do something like that. In fact, it is the model which I want to create a viral creepypasta: a horror story or account that will be posted throughout the Internet. But now I realize how some of the challenges I proposed in my other posts on Horror as a Universal Power: The Function of a Creepypasta and especially Making a Receipe For a Creepypasta With Uncanny Filling can finally be addressed.

Essentially, I need collaborators. I need to engineer a situation where we can go to a board and have a correspondence discussion: an exchange of posts talking about an event that we create. It is kind of like role-playing and also collaborating on a story together. By writing it like this, we can have all the natural typos, grammatical errors, and some natural energies and improvisation come through. We can begin it through talking about fact, and then slowly getting to the emotional creepy parts.

Of course, we would have some challenges. For instance, what Message Board could we take? Should we make our own? And if so, how do we deal with others posting? Or, rather, would be excellent to get them in on it too? At the very least it can add to the legitimacy of it and make it look like a spontaneous thing if other people who don’t know about this potential Project got in on it. If we can make this a great participatory writing project turned creepy meme, that would be excellent: but it has to be unified and coherent while at the same time have an element of the unexplained and horrific in there as well.

All I need is an idea for a story and I have a few. My list might have something or perhaps even one of my dreams from my dream journal beside my bed. If I can get some people to create photographs, graphics, and artwork as well that would just be an added bonus.

Tis the season of Halloween. This might just be interesting.

Frustration, Developments and Other Stories

I’m trying to find the best way to phrase this because it’s been on my mind for a while.

As a lot of you–old and new readers alike–know, I’ve been improving and developing this Blog as I’ve gone along. I had a few ideas as to how I would add to it. Really, I had two ideas. The first was that I was going to take my Youtube Channel and create a Vlog. I’d seen some people do this before–such as FreakishLemon–and I wanted an excuse to be able to read some of my stories and opinions aloud and even talk to people about my plans.

It was–and is–a good idea. But there were two factors I didn’t know about until I actually got up the courage to try them out. The first is that while I discovered my Acer netbook can record video and audio with its camera, the transfer rate of said video from my computer to Youtube was something along the lines of 436 minutes. Now, I’m not good with numbers, but there is something really wrong with a five minute video taking over seven hours to upload onto a site that is designed to receive and play videos.

But all right. Fine, perhaps it was my wireless connection, or the quality of my camera. I discovered that Youtube has a recorder. So I used that. I made one video that was ok, but I wanted to do over again. So I attempted that and then … I got a disconnection error on the screen. I kept recording anyway: thinking that I just couldn’t see the camera and the video was playing anyway. I was wrong. The recording cut off right about the time the disconnection error on the camera feed began.

I spent a large amount of time trying to figure out why this was happening and why I couldn’t just upload my videos. It also didn’t help that before all of this I had been doing various retakes of the same video. You know: the one that never made it onto the Net. I researched these problems and partially confirmed some of my suspicions, but mostly it made me frustrated. You have to understand, I get frustrated with technology–very frustrated with technology–whose creators claim it is supposed to be simple to use but it really isn’t. And even barring that, if we follow Gaiman’s Second Rule I believe, we will have all the technology and science we’ve dreamed about in science-fiction but it won’t always work properly.

I wonder how many times holograms and communications channels would lag in Star Trek if that were the case. Or if Data had to reboot several times or freeze in mid-motion before doing anything else.

So I decided to put that on the back-burner for a while, and instead record some audio files of me reading my stories aloud: for the practice. I have a weird program on this Acer which won’t let me listen to the recording I made after I made it, but aside from that it recorded well. Of course I can’t put this onto Youtube because it is audio only. And so I thought I could put it on this WordPress: which I can … for a modest fee. Since I don’t have the money to actually pay for more space or an application on here, that plan is out of the works unless I find a remote audio upload program I can trust.

I also thought about changing the aesthetics of this site. I have a friend who is into graphic design and photography who offered to help me, but I seems that I can customize this site again … for a modest fee a year.

I mean, fair enough. My Blog is changing and may be evolving past the limits of that I wasn’t even aware existed. I want it to look more customized and to add different media onto it. I also wanted to have a once or twice a week Vlog tie-in: to get the Youtube community on this and get further feedback. But it seems that I am lacking money and, quite frankly, patience. I am not going to rely on a recording program that might decide to cut off on me on a whim and I am definitely not going to wait over seven hours for a video to upload.

I’m also thinking about reducing the amount of times I post on this Blog to once or twice a week as well. I need to focus more on my writing and make more posts to keep in reserve. It’s amazing to think that just a few months ago I was writing a Blog post a day or every two days spontaneously and on the spot. I do still have some ideas and when I get more I will be more than happy to share them.

Anyway, I hope by the time I post this I will have figured more things out and maybe by expressing some of this frustration, I can free up my head to do more constructive things. Because I think that is the most frustrating thing of all: spending a lot of this time on technical matters when all I want to do is write. I’m not ruling out the other options too, but things are really going to have to change before anything else.

Maybe these setbacks, in the end, are a good thing in their way: because now I know where the limits are and I can begin to find creative ways around them and work with what I have. One can only hope.

If anyone has any suggestions as to how I can solve any of these issues, my ears are open. Take care, awesome readers.

A Picture Speaks a Thousand Blog Posts, Or Something

https://i1.wp.com/xanthus-consulting.com/_images/words-words-words.jpg

So that is what my Blog entries are like with graphics in them. I’m actually of a few minds when I look at what I’m starting to do now.

I like the fact that when I put an image in my posts, it actually becomes the default icon for the entry when I post it somewhere else. It makes it look more elegant and perhaps more “professional and serious”: certainly it beats seeing WordPress’ “W” as the icon every time.

On the other hand, it does take more work to find these images: and these are just for my reviews or articles on established things. To be fair, for this past while I’ve been posting almost nothing but reviews and adding the graphics into them for emphasis. It has been fun in some ways and I can see just how necessary it is. Human beings are very visual creatures and something needs to be attention-grabbing in order to get someone to look at your work: be it an image, a very strong starting sentence, or even a turn of phrase. Or all of the above.

I’d also like to mention that adding graphics into my works–for all I’ve mentioned writing comics scripts–is very different for me. I’ve done it before, but not very often because my medium is prose or sometimes poetry. Adding pictures into writing does change things. It is something that one would find in a respectable or popular journal, magazine, or newspaper.

As for me, sometimes I feel like I’m just stating my opinion, or writing a few stories from time to time: and not as many stories as I’d like. This change in format–I guess–makes me think differently and wonder how the focus of my Blog may or may not be changing.
It might sound strange that I’m thinking about this with the mere addition of pictures to the mix, but I’m wondering now what exactly it is I’m making here. What am I trying to say? What is Mythic Bios? Is it me trying to show you–as a creator–what the world around us actually looks like to me: what it is and what I want it to be? That would be a nice thought.

What I do know that this shouldn’t be just a collection of reviews. I know that it still needs further organization and that its aesthetic will continue to evolve. I’ve also been thinking about something else: of which I’ll have to see if I still want to follow through with because it would be more commitment time and concentration and technology-wise.

Because after all, human beings aren’t just visual creatures: they are aural ones as well. We like to actually hear things and I like to actually read things out loud. I’ve been thinking about doing a Vlog for a while: maybe reading some writings of mine aloud or even just voicing some opinions like I like to do. I could really get all of this to be a multimedia tool of expression for me and–who knows–it might make some good practice for when I start making more serious things.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep posting some stories in my Stories and Things section here and also keep writing in my Mythic Bios notebook: which I am really glad I still do. Even though it is excellent to make your writing public, it is always good to keep something to yourself as well for future uses: or not.

Now to find a graphic for this non-review post: summarizing all of this writing into one image. Take care, my friends.